Posted December 20, 2010 3:44 pm by with 8 comments

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On Tuesday, December 21, the FCC will vote on a proposal that will allow internet providers to better manage bandwidth by charging more to those users who use more and less to those who don’t. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Apparently, it’s not.

I spent an hour this morning reading over a variety of articles on the subject from the factual pieces from Reuters to the techie take at Crunch Gear to the twists and turns of The Washington Post. My favorite piece was written by Al Franken for The Huffington Post. Yes, SNL’s Al Franken who is now a Senator from Minnesota.

Franken explains the concept of net neutrality as leveling the playing field. Where small business has the same access to the internet as a large corporation. “A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.” Which sounds extremely fair but what if my neighbor likes to download a movie every hour of the day while I only use my internet to access email and Facebook a couple of times a day. Is it fair that we’re both paying the same amount per month for access?

People against the upcoming vote, say that allowing internet providers to regulate cost based on usage is giving them too much control. Suppose we take this scenario over to the TV.  My neighbor and I both pay the same amount for the same service. If he chooses not to watch what he’s paid for, that’s not my problem. Under this new ruling (if it applied to TV), the cable company could choose to charge per show watched. If I have to pay, I may think twice about watching the premiere of David Hasselhoff’s new series and that’s going to make studios even more leery about investing in new and different shows (Sushi Wars!). No more money for the creative process, innovation goes out the window and now we’re living in a country where the government is inadvertently controlling what we watch on TV.

Just to be clear, tomorrow’s vote doesn’t involve television. It only involves your cable company if they’re also an internet provider and it has ramifications for cell phone wireless providers, too. I only use the TV metaphor because I like TV and I understand everything better when Law & Order is in the mix. If, in turn, all I have done is confuse you, then welcome to my morning.

People all over the internet are claiming that tomorrow’s FCC vote is a slap in the face to free speech, that it will put a stranglehold on the advancement of the internet and will lead to a system where only the privileged will have access. Kinda dramatic.

The big question here is whether you see the internet as a right or a privileged. Is the internet akin to electricity and phone service, or is it more like cable TV? What everyone does agree on is that the current language isn’t clear enough so even if the FCC goes forward with the new regulations there are plenty of loop holes to be legally challenged and explored.

Do you have an opinion about net neutrality? We’d love to hear it.

  • lrn2postnubs

    Your analogy to television only serves as proof that you have no idea what net neutrality is.

    • Cynthia Boris

      Please do explain.

  • Most human beings and UN member nations agree that Internet access is a fundamental human right:

    So do I.

    To quote Hilary Clinton: “The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space.”

    • Cynthia Boris

      But does that mean that internet providers must foot the bill for 24/7 World of Warcraft marathons?

  • Now a days Internet became a part of life. Everyone is using for their needs.Internet advances this important policy priority and constitutes an important step in preventing abuses and continuing to advance the Internet as an engine of productivity growth and innovation. Internet Policy Statement which is released by FCC is very useful to all. Now we can get the lawful internet broadband connection.

  • Net Neutrality is one more way the government looks to get their dirty hands into our free market. It sounds great to regulate and make those who use the internet more, pay more, but why not let the internet service providers decide for themselves how they are going to charge?

    Take this into consideration: I charge a lot of my clients a flat monthly rate. Some take a lot more time than others, and when one of my clients starts taking a lot more of my time, I renegotiate with my client on what they should pay me. I don’t look to the government to tell me what I should or shouldn’t charge. The only place the government is involved is after my client has paid me and I owe the government taxes. That is more than enough government involvement for me!!!!!!!

  • Vikki

    So what happens to those who have constant internet connection like FIOS or DSL users? We pay more? This is complete bullshit. We pay enough money in internet connection, plus taxes and fees and more fees and so on and so on. I don’t watch tv as much as the next guy, or use my landline phone as much as the next guy, yet I have to pay the same costs as everyone else. Making internet usage like a water bill or gas bill is ridiculous. I work from home, which requires me to be online 8-12 hours a day. I work from home to save money in gas and wear and tear on my car, and to cut daycare expenses. I guess they will do what they want no matter how many voices are raised. We, the people, have no more rights.

  • Jordan

    Right, so I pay for my internet b/c I’m employed but now I should have internet providers shove the extra cost of a 1000 people who don’t want to pay for it onto my bill. Anyone who beguiles themselves into thinking the cost won’t get handed down for allowing this kind of access is either blind or foolish or both.

    I opposed the health reform and this is another invasion of the free market. When will the world wake up and realize our govt. does not hold any secret keys to effective management. They usually make things WORSE. As a grown adult I’m quite capable of managing myself on almost all my own affairs.

    I don’t see the need for this and hope that this kind of infectious thinking is fought hard!